The community of Clinton, NY has been the home of Tom’s Natural Foods (originally known as Whole Earth Natural Foods) at 16 College Street for almost 50 years.
Any business with such a long run of success is undoubtedly going to reach a time for succession, where the owner(s) are ready for retirement, undoubtedly wanting their life’s work and legacy to continue. In stepped Jason Townsend (Professor of environmental science at Hamilton College), Nancy Morelle (Co-owner of Old Path Farm and part-time employee at Tom’s) and Andrew Sblendorio, who contacted the Onondaga SBDC for assistance in navigating the purchase.
Starting in January of 2020, SBDC Business Advisor Frank Cetera assisted the buyers with understanding their form of business entity options, as they were initially looking at forming a consumer cooperative. At the same time, the buyers were looking at the potential sale price that the owners had discussed with them and trying to determine if it was reasonable and feasible.
Using ProfitCents software, and the financial information from IRS tax return documents that Tom’s provided, Cetera was able to develop 5-year projections, a basic valuation for the buyers to use in comparison to the original offer, and a narrative report explaining some of the ratios and statistics from the analysis.
After an online Zoom meeting to review the report that, as it turned out contained a valuation close to the sellers offer, the buyers had confidence in the upcoming transaction, and surety that they had done their due diligence in the process. Co-owner Andrew Sblendario says that "Frank and the SBDC answered all of our questions with an ease and clarity that really allowed us to proceed with confidence into this new venture. With Frank by your side, you'll be able to meet and then exceed not only your goals, but your wildest dreams."
The transition to the new owners operating the business did get pushed forward from the fall due to the coronavirus outbreak. They reopened the doors of Tom’s Natural Foods with its new owners on June 2nd, 2020, exactly 48 years to the day from when Tom’s originally opened in 1972.
Andrew, Nancy, and Jason actively engage with their local community through social media and traditional personal networking. They also work hard to put a major emphasis on local and regional products like meats, produce, mushrooms, breads and more.
Andrew Sblendario says "The community surrounding Tom's in Clinton is just amazing. People are so excited we are back open they can hardly contain themselves, and we are so happy to feed into that energy with many of the staples they've come to love, plus as many new and exciting offerings as we can get our hands on."
For more information about Tom’s Natural Foods, visit their Facebook page.
Article published in the 'The Central New York Business Journal' on September 7, 2020
Frank Cetera is an Advanced Certified Business Advisor at the Small Business Development Center located at Onondaga Community College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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